Tufts Officials Upset By Beating Of Racism Opponent
MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ Tufts University officials said Thursday the beating of a white student activist, apparently by other students, was linked to his outspoken views on racism.
″Obviously we have a racial problem, but I don’t think our racial problem is any greater than other institutions have,″ said Dean of Students Bobbie Knable.
Sophomore Ian Kremer, 19, told police he was chased by three or four white youths early Wednesday. When they caught him, they beat him and called him by racial and religious epithets, he said.
Kremer was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.
He could not identify the attackers, but police believe they attend Tufts ″because they spoke to him and seemed to have a knowledge of him that they would not have had if they were not students,″ Knable said.
Late Wednesday night, a group of black and white students who met to discuss the attack decided to stage a spontaneous ″solidarity march,″ Knable said.
Knable had said a confrontation between several white motorists and the marchers had racial overtones, but later, after reading a police report, she said it appeared that was not so.
School officials originally reported that several white youths got out of a car and engaged in a shoving match with marchers. But Tufts Police Chief Gerald Kearney said later only one man confronted the marchers. The motorist was apparently upset only over the road being blocked, Kearney said.
Witnesses said the motorist drove toward the students then stopped abruptly without hitting them.
The driver, who Kearney identified only as a non-student, was questioned by police, but no charges were filed. No injuries were reported.
Campus police arrived after the confrontation.
Also Thursday, about 100 students joined hands in a moment of silence, and then sang ″We Shall Overcome,″ Van Camp said.
″Not only was it an attack on Ian, it was an attack on all of us - women, minorities, homosexuals,″ said Holly Heard, a black sophomore from Chicago who wore a green ribbon as a symbol of racial solidarity.
″I was very upset, but I wasn’t surprised, unfortunately,″ she said. ″I knew racism was here on campus.″
Van Camp said the school intends to seek prosecution of the attackers and would seek to discipline them if they are found to be students.
Tufts, just north of Boston, has 4,400 students, about 13 percent of them minorities including 5 percent black and 5 percent Asian students.
Kremer, a campus activist from Manhattan, Kan., last week wrote a column titled ″Students Tolerate Bias and Racism″ for a weekly student newspaper, the Tufts Observer.
″Hate is alive and well at Tufts,″ Kremer wrote. ″Refusal to acknowledge the existence of discrimination and oppression gives tacit approval and encouragement to the active racist and sexist.″
Knable and Van Camp said they saw no relationship between the incidents at Tufts and a brawl in October at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, involving hundrds of black and white students.
Knable said the Tufts incidents were more related to what she called a trend for Americans to be ″less respective of differences.″
″Regardless of whether we are part of the Ivory Tower, our students come from the real world, and they do come with some kind of an imprint,″ she said.
Before the incidents, Tufts President Jean Mayer appointed a committee to deal with racism on campus and designated Tuesday ″a day of reflection″ on racial issues, Van Camp said.